By Aaron Eben
Based in Los Angeles, California with offices in US and India, Pixxel Space Technologies, Inc. is a space data company building a constellation of hyperspectral earth imaging satellites and the analytical tools to mine insights from that data. The datasets from Pixxel’s satellites provide granular information relevant to climate monitoring, crop health and yield prediction, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, disaster response and more. The American Geographical Society sat down with Pixxel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Aakash Parekh and Vice President, US Public Sector, Mr. Skip Maselli to discuss Pixxel’s future and the numerous ways the space-tech company utilizes geospatial data and tools.
In February 2019, co-founders Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal recognized the need for more comprehensive data from space and founded Pixxel to build a better class of satellites that would close the technical and commercial reliability gaps in existing earth imaging constellations. Pixxel’s technology focuses on a combination of high spectral and spatial resolution satellites that capture hundreds of unique wavelengths, illuminating objects and materials otherwise invisible to traditional imaging satellites. Pixxel envisioned a solution that encompassed spectral, spatial, and temporal dimensions that have been particularly useful for carbon sequestration and crop health. Mr. Parekh explained, “We are building a true health monitor for the planet. With 250+ bands at a 5m resolution and daily global access, our constellation is designed to detect, monitor, and predict global phenomena with much greater precision and frequency.”
The geospatial data company has brought many geographic applications to life, with Mr. Parekh noting, “at Pixxel, geography intersects at every level of our imagery collection applications. Through remote sensing-based mapping, Pixxel focuses on distinguishing and characterizing land features, man-made objects, materials, and chemicals based on their unique spectral reflectance.” In doing so, the company is not only enhancing our understanding of geographical data but also leveraging advanced geospatial imaging technologies and tools to collect, analyze and characterize spectral properties that are invisible to the naked eye and other imaging satellites. Pixxel currently provides hyperspectral imagery to over 50 commercial and government early adopters who are engaged in measuring and monitoring agricultural health conditions, oil and gas pipelines, forestry management, natural resource exploration, and water quality assessment, among other applications.
Pixxel’s current launches have paved the way for its future vision of human expansion into space. Highlighting the burgeoning interest by agencies such as the US Space Force, NRO, NASA, and others, Mr. Maselli noted, “in addition to its current applications, our technology shows promise in providing space domain awareness, informing scientists and mission planners on cislunar applications, and eventually, providing understandings of interplanetary and moon surfaces.”
The successful deployment of three satellites in orbit has demonstrated the value of Pixxel’s technology and mission operations approach, which has not only led to long-term contracts with the government, but has attracted financial investments for further growth. The company’s investor base spans the globe, with notable support from groups such as Lightspeed, Radical Ventures, and Google. With a total of $71 million raised to date, Pixxel is currently the most well-capitalized commercial hyperspectral satellite company in the world.
What sets Pixxel apart from existing satellite imaging companies is its ability to capture the world’s highest spatial and spectral resolution hyperspectral images in wide swaths so as to cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometers per day. Pixxel’s technology is unique and resilient in that its satellite designs have a reduced size and weight form factor, offering unparalleled detail and insights. Mr. Maselli added, “Pixxel’s approach to imagery collection and spectral analysis assures superior results, opening up new solution paradigms for the most challenging problems that our customers face across a variety of markets.” These include organizations focused on environmental conservation to natural resource management to national security and economic indicator modeling. With its orbiting satellites already delivering one-of-a-kind data today, and its enhanced and expanded constellations launching in the coming year, Pixxel is already revolutionizing the field of hyperspectral remote sensing.
Pixxel’s relentless pursuit of innovation and commitment to delivering actionable insights through its hyperspectral satellite constellation makes the company a standout player in the geospatial intelligence and mapping marketplace. With plans to launch 24 satellites by 2025, Pixxel is poised to make significant contributions to global monitoring and pave the way for a sustainable future on Earth and beyond.
To learn more about Pixxel, check out their website here.